Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss. Symptoms may appear suddenly, but they can also develop gradually and worsen over time.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the condition and which part of the digestive tract it affects.

Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease. This article also looks at how they can differ depending on the part of the gut in which the condition develops.

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The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:

Other symptoms that may develop include:

Early symptoms of Crohn’s disease are typically similar to those of norovirus, food poisoning, and other gastrointestinal conditions, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

A person may initially notice abdominal pain and changes in their bowel movements, such as diarrhea. They may also experience bloating.

Crohn’s disease is most likely to appear in people ages 15–30 years or 40–60 years. However, it can start at any age.

Learn more about the average age of diagnosis for Crohn’s disease.

There are five types of Crohn’s disease, and they differ according to the part of the digestive tract they affect. They also present slightly differently, which helps doctors diagnose the type of the condition correctly.

Below is an overview of each of the five types of Crohn’s disease and their symptoms.


Ileocolitis is the most common type of the condition. It affects the large intestine and the end of the small intestine.

Common symptoms are:

  • pain or cramping in the center or lower right region of the abdomen
  • diarrhea
  • significant weight loss


Ileitis affects the ileum, the narrowest and final section of the small intestine.

Its symptoms resemble those of ileocolitis, but complications can arise. These include fistulas or abscesses in the lower right part of the abdomen.

A fistula in the gut is a passage that develops between the digestive tract and another part of the body.

Crohn’s colitis

Crohn’s colitis, or granulomatous colitis, usually only affects the large intestine.

Typical symptoms include:

  • ulcers, fistulas, and abscesses around the anus
  • joint pain
  • skin changes
  • diarrhea
  • bleeding from the rectum

Gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease

With gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease, severe inflammation occurs in the stomach and the first part of the small intestine.

Symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • nausea
  • vomiting


This type of Crohn’s disease affects the upper half of the small intestine, called the jejunum.

Symptoms include:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramping or discomfort after eating
  • fistulas, in severe cases

Learn more about the types of Crohn’s disease.

According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), Crohn’s disease in children can lead to:

  • cramping
  • abdominal pain
  • regular episodes of watery diarrhea
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite, which can affect growth and weight gain
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • malnutrition due to a low calorie intake
  • nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption
  • delayed puberty, in some cases
  • bleeding in the digestive system
  • anemia, which can cause pale skin, faintness, and other health problems

As the condition progresses, a child may experience:

The NORD states that around 30% of children with Crohn’s disease develop perianal Crohn’s disease. This can cause:

  • abscesses
  • fissures
  • skin tags
  • pain when going to the bathroom

Symptoms of Crohn’s disease can resemble those of other conditions, such as:

If a person experiences symptoms of Crohn’s disease, it is important to contact a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment plan.

People need to seek guidance from a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhea that lasts for 7 days or longer
  • frequent stomach pain, cramping, and discomfort
  • blood in stool
  • unexplained weight loss

The doctor may order tests or refer the person to a specialist to assist with reaching an accurate diagnosis.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Crohn’s disease.

Can you suddenly develop Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease typically begins gradually. A person will usually notice some abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits that may worsen over time. This most often begins around the age of 15–30 years or 40–60 years.

What triggers Crohn’s disease?

Possible causes for Crohn’s disease include bacteria triggering an immune response, smoking, stress, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and certain foods.

Learn more about Crohn’s disease triggers.

What foods trigger Crohn’s disease?

Food triggers for Crohn’s disease can differ for each person but may include foods high in fat, fiber, or lactose. Artificial sweeteners, sugary foods, and spicy foods may also trigger Crohn’s disease.

The early signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease can resemble those of other conditions. Common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating. A person may also experience unexplained weight loss.

The symptoms a person experiences can depend on the type of Crohn’s disease. Anyone who notices new or persistent symptoms needs to contact a doctor for advice. The doctor can help confirm the diagnosis and advise on a suitable treatment plan.

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